Archives for March 2014

Your Life Is Worth More

midnight-rider-doctortown-trestle Mike McCallPhoto credit: Mike McCall

By Marci Liroff

The events on the train tracks in Wayne County, Ga., Feb. 20, while filming the Gregg Allman film have been weighing heavily on me. I have a hard time calling it an “accident.” I know that no one meant to do it on purpose or had any ill intent. But I know firsthand what it’s like to be pressured into doing something that you don’t feel is safe. I know what it’s like to be in a situation that’s chaotic, and “the team” is pressuring you into doing something you’d never normally do. Second Assistant Camerawoman Sarah Elizabeth Jones lost her life for an ill-conceived “camera test”, and seemingly no one had her back.

I was involved in the casting of “Twilight Zone: The Movie” years ago, and refused to cast the children that John Landis and his producer were asking for. I was one of the very few people who said “no” to him.

I spoke to Terri Becherer, SAG-AFTRA’s national director of specialty performers, and asked her a few questions.

In response to what actors should do if they feel they’re being put in a dangerous situation on set, Becherer says, “I can’t emphasize enough that performers should never do something that they feel is dangerous unless they are qualified to do so. The performer’s consent is required prior to performing stunts or other hazardous activity. The first AD and the stunt coordinator are responsible for the safety of the set; if a performer feels they are being put in a hazardous situation, they should locate the stunt coordinator or the first AD and let them know of his or her concerns. If there is not a safety person available, then the performer can call the union. We have a hotline they can call 24 hours a day, and the number is printed on the back of every membership card.” That hotline is 800-551-9110.

As for possible repercussions from speaking up, Becherer points out that “nothing is worth risking your well-being or the health and safety of your fellow cast and crew. There are protections in place to prevent repercussions from the producer. Be as professional as possible when voicing concerns, and when in doubt, call your union.”

Should any actor feel unsafe on set, he or she should find the union-required, qualified person and speak to him or her. “Whenever stunts or stunt-related activity is planned, our contracts require that there must be an individual qualified by training and/or experience in the planning and setting up, or performance of, the stunt engaged, and present on set,” Becherer says. “If you believe that such individuals are not on the set, please contact us immediately.”

And as far as nonunion productions go, Becherer’s advice is the same: “Trust your instincts. Don’t do anything if you feel your safety is compromised.” She adds, “Also, SAG-AFTRA considers performer safety to be of utmost priority. Our contracts contain many provisions to ensure that safety. There is a lot of excellent information available on the SAG-AFTRA website. There are links to all of the safety bulletins issued by the industry, as well as many articles on safety from the SAG-AFTRA magazine.”

Please be safe. It’s not worth your life. Never again. #SarahJones

PLEASE share with your friends. I’d love to hear your stories if you’ve ever been in a situation you felt was dangerous and what you did (or didn’t) do about it!

Want to share this post? Here are some ready-made tweets!
Click to Tweet: Safety is SO important on a set. Don’t do anything u feel is dangerous! via @MarciLiroff #SarahJones
Click to Tweet:  Don’t be afraid to say “NO” if you’re confronted with a dangerous stunt on set via @MarciLiroff #safety




Why Do You Act?


By Marci Liroff

I’m sure you all saw Will Smith on the first episode of “The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon” a few weeks ago. You probably remember him dancing with Fallon and showing us the evolution of hip-hop dancing. It was hilarious. But the real gem was buried within the interview. They were talking about fame, and Fallon asked Smith if it ever got scary for him. Smith replied that it can, especially now that his kids are coming into the business. “But I tell them…keep loving people. The thing is to make sure with your art that it is a gift to people to help their lives be better and brighter. What happens a lot of times when you see people fail in this business is that they’re in it for their ego, and they start doing it for them. It’s like, no, you’re trying to help people get through a day.” I see a lot of actors wrestling with this lately. I think they’ve lost sight of why they do this in the first place. The daily excitement of getting an audition, prepping for it, and going on the call has been replaced by disappointment (“I didn’t book it!”) and unrealized expectations. I’ve noticed several acting coaches and life coaches encouraging you to “live the red carpet life” and “get A-listed.”

Is that really why you became an actor, to get on a red carpet at a premiere? Should that be your goal? Should that even be your frame of mind? I say no. I say reject that message.

I want you to ask yourself why you became an actor. Why do you act? I asked this on my Facebook page recently and instructed folks to answer from their heart, not their head. I got some truly inspiring answers that might help you reconnect to the core reason you became an actor in the first place. Here are a few: “I’m an actor because I refuse to live inside of the box.” “I act to make a story come to life and hopefully trigger some emotional connection with the audience.” “My 6 1/2-year-old son said, ‘It’s my passion…who I am.’ ” “Because I need to be an actor.” “To move people through storytelling.” “To tell stories that offer comfort in this chaos.” “It is like breathing.” “Because I can’t not act. It’s too painful.” For me, it’s always been about the work. You are artists and born storytellers. When you lose sight of that and start thinking about being famous, you’ve already shifted your alignment with your art. Get back on track and ask yourself, “Why do I act?” I’d love to hear your answers! Make sure to check out my new online course “How To Audition For Film and Television: Audition Bootcamp”. You can view it on your laptop or your mobile device and your subscription gives you lifetime viewing privileges for this course. I’ll be adding lectures throughout the year.

Glad you’re here. Marci

Earthquake, Schmearthquake – Get Prepared!


By Marci Liroff

We had a 4.4 earthquake here today in Los Angeles. It was yet another kick in the pants reality check to get better prepared. Those that know me know that I’m pretty vigilant about this stuff, but I realized I’ve slacked a little and could use a refresher course in my emergency preparedness. I know many of you don’t live in earthquake country but you can use this info for ANY emergency.

I know you don’t want to hear/read this. I know it’s overwhelming.

Even if you get HALF of this stuff and become aware you’ll be smarter and won’t have to rely on the system when we have a disaster.

Remember that when the power goes out the gas stations will stop pumping gas and the ATMs will stop spitting out cash. Do you always have at least a half a tank of gas in your car? Do you have extra cash stashed away? Society will become “cash and carry” as soon as a disaster hits.

My gas turned off today from this little earthquake.

Do you know how to turn on your gas? I didn’t. My lovely neighbors Mike and Pam helped me.

At the very least, read through my friend Peter Hankoff’s guidelines. Trust me that he’s been there and he knows.

Get educated!


Due to popular demand, I’m reposting my earthquake prep manifesto. If you were in this morning’s LA earthquake, bear in mind when you still have electricity, it probably is an indication that things weren’t too bad. A 4.4 isn’t all that much; though granted being at any epicenter feels like the end of the world, but bridges are standing, water is flowing and electricity is on. OK, here’s the skinny:

Having trained as a civilian emergency responder with the LA Fire Department and spent many years in Disaster Services with the American Red Cross, here’s a list of what I’ve learned that is important for sustaining a sense of sanity and safety after an earthquake…or any big emergency, actually. But it boils down to a few essential things:

1 – You need to have more water than you think. No, it’s not because you’re thirsty, but because you need to keep clean so you won’t get infections, and you might even need to cook up a pound of rice, which will keep you alive a long time. At least 15 gallons per person per household…really. I’ve got 60 gallons, and I’m barely home (Yeah, you’re coming to my house right?) If all hell breaks loose, water is the #1 commodity. Don’t think you can drink the swimming pool without any consequences: you will get diarrhea. Then you’ll need even more water.

2 – You need to have more batteries than you think, and one flashlight per person (all the same batteries make life simpler), plus one flashlight in the car.

3 – Work gloves – they don’t have to be fancy, but they need to be leather, NOT cloth, because if you end up working a fire, cloth burns faster. Your hands are the most valuable tools you own…protect them. A gash or burn across the palms will quickly render you useless. If you think there’s a fire in the other room, crouch down feel the middle of the door with THE BACK OF YOUR HAND before entering.

4 – A crowbar in your bedroom to get you out of your bedroom. A crowbar in your kitchen to get you into your bedroom…or anyone else’s! (btw: the kitchen is THE most dangerous room in the house – sharp objects, broken glass, dislodged appliances and be careful before opening any cupboard or you may be showered by china and whatever else got jostled.)

5 – You need to learn exactly HOW TO:
– shut off your water
– shut off your gas
– shut off your electricity
– work a fire extinguisher (aim it at the BASE of the fire, NOT the flames and use sweeping motion to kill a fire)
– put together an out-of-state contact number for the family to communicate – long distance lines are up sooner than local lines, and cell lines will probably be down all together.
– administer emergency first aid & CPR. (You’ll always hear of people dying from heart attacks right after the earthquake. Do you really want to watch someone die just because you didn’t know what the hell to do?)

OK, here are the basics:


minimum of 15 gallons of water per person (don’t forget pets – a gallon a day)
first aid kit – and learn first aid and CPR!!!
work gloves
heavy shoes – extra pair in your car for walking home when the roads are blocked
2 crowbars
canned food for one week
can opener (non electric)
$100 in singles
$20 in quarters
one flashlight per person – 2-D cell (or higher number of D cells)
20 D-cell batteries…or more – not less
1 box of strike anywhere matches
1 camp stove
3 canisters of camp stove fuel
1 pipe wrench for shutting off your gas line (and restoring it)  – I have the new kind (I just discovered) that works with a flathead screwdriver
1 week supply of pet food
1 deck of cards for keeping children out of your hair
1 phone that plugs into your wall and requires NO batteries
1 portable radio and/or TV plus 3 set of batteries for it
10 candles (make sure there is NO gas leak BEFORE ever using them)
extra medications
minimum of 1 roll of duct tape
1 whistle per person (so people can hear you if you’re trapped)
1 roll of plastic sheeting for instant repair to broken windows
photos of family – to help emergency services locate them

CAR: (put this in a knapsack)

1 gallon of water
snacks – granola bars or trail mix are simplest
heavy walking shoes/boots
work gloves
$50 in singles
1 first aid kit
one 2-D (or higher) flashlight
4 extra 2-D batteries
map of your area
pad and pen – to leave a note of your whereabouts and route taken
extra socks
portable radio
1 whistle
2 disposable foil sleeping bags (AKA “space blanket”)
photos of family


1 flashlight and extra set of batteries
1 gallon of water
1 pair of heavy shoes for walking home
1 pair of work gloves
1 first aid kit
extra medications
$10 in change (pay phones are the first phones to go back on-line after an emergency – use one to call out of state contact)
1 crowbar
1 whistle

1 flashlight and extra set of batteries
1 bottle of water
1 pair of work gloves
1 snack
photos of family – to keep calm
$5 in change
1 disposable foil sleeping bag (“space blanket”)

I know this can all sound daunting, maybe even crazy, but all this stuff is going to cost a lot more if you don’t have it. Peace of mind and a sense of preparedness can save your life and the lives of others around you.

If you want to know what to do DURING an earthquake – please check out this URL.

FEMA: What to Do During an Earthquake

Here’s a great PDF to download “What To Do Before, During, and After An Earthquake”

Please remember that standing in a doorway can get you hurt by the door! (That doorway idea is the old school approach designed if you live in a brick building because doorways are considered safer than the walls crumbling around it.) But any interior hallway without a lot of stuff on the walls is pretty safe. Sit low with your back to the wall and ride it out. It will end. Also, do you have something big and heavy over your bed? It can hurt you if it’s not secured to the wall. Also think twice before running out of a building. A lot of stuff shaking lose could kill you. If you’re in your office, get under your desk (unless it’s glass) and hold on and ride it out.

Another crucial thing to do ahead of time is to be sure you’re financially prepared for an earthquake or disaster.

Check out this article with pertinent information from Bankrate.

Feel free to forward this.

I’d love to hear your comments about how you’ve prepared your house/office/car so we an all benefit!

If you found this helpful, please share!
1 2 »